The Ravens added Danny Woodhead and Bobby Rainey in the offseason to bolster their stable of running backs, but a familiar face has been Terrance West's primary backup through the first week of training camp.
Javorius "Buck" Allen has taken advantage of Kenneth Dixon's impending season-long absence because of a torn meniscus in his left knee to be the No. 2 running back on offense. And Allen credits his rise in part to a workout regimen that has made him appear trimmer than his listed size of 6-feet and 222 pounds.
"I feel like this offseason is the hardest offseason I've put myself through," he said recently. "I'm ready for whatever comes my way. I'm just pretty much ready. I feel like I'm their trump card – whenever they need to use me, they'll use me. So I'm ready to play whatever role – if it's starting or if it's whatever."
After a rookie campaign in which he produced 514 rushing yards and one touchdown on 137 carries and 353 receiving yards and two scores on 45 receptions, Allen dropped on the depth chart and ran the ball only nine times for 34 yards and caught just three passes for 15 yards.
The reduction in playing time and the death of a cousin about a month ago have driven Allen.
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"I didn't play as much as I thought I would, and that just motivated me more to work harder, to make them notice me and use me in certain situations," he said. "Like I said, I've put a lot of work in this offseason. I know it's going to pay off. I'm not going to sit here and say I hope it pays off. I know it's going to pay off."
Allen's work has not gone unnoticed by coach John Harbaugh.
"Buck is very determined," Harbaugh said Thursday. "To me, Buck has always had the ability, always has been a very hard worker, but there's a lot to be said about confidence and believing in yourself and making the most of your talent. It seems to me that he's doing that this camp."
As grateful as he is for the coaches' decision to make him the No. 2 back, Allen pointed out that he is still working toward his ultimate objective.
"The reward would be starting if you asked me," he said. "I want to be a starting back. But I worked this offseason not knowing if I was going to be [No.] 2, 3 or 1. I just wanted to push myself and be better as a player, and I think I did that."